Three times during the parliament film crews approached Bodhiantha for interviews, including the largest TV station in Iran. Bodhinatha offered thoughtful insights into the significance of the gathering focusing especially on Hinduism's role here.
Swami Chidanand Saraswati, the very first Hinduism Today Hindu of the Year in 1992, had a number of meetings with Bodhinatha and the team. Here he shares a generous appraisal of Bodhinatha's important message of "Mutual Respect" at the Convocation of Hindu Spiritual Leaders. Swami noted that "You know all of the great acharyas and swamis here offer slokas and blessings, and that is so important. They teach people, but they don't touch people like you do. It's amazing what Hinduism Today does, everything you do is so informed, so beautiful. We all have to learn from you." Swami, it seems, was happy with the Keynote!
Balinese dancers, nine of them, came from Bali to the Parliament, lending a touch of culture that was graceful and oh-so-different. Many present had never seen that color of the Hindu rainbow, so different from the Indian stream. They watched with wonder. The main dancer came up to Bodhinatha afterwards and asked for a photo with him.
Earlier that day, the Religion & Media panel was attended by some 75 participants, a full 80% of them from the religious community, including a few Anglican bishops from the UK. Palaniswami was joined by Christopher Landau from the BBC and Ahmed Rehab from Chicago. Here they are working out a plan for the 90 minutes.
Ahmed is one of the most significant spokespersons for the Muslim commumnity in America. He is the one CNN, FOX and others call when they want a moderate, informed Muslim voice on issues, such as the recent killings on America's largest military base. Ahmed wants to connect more with Hinduism Today and told Palaniswami the Hindus and Muslims don't have enough conversations. He wants to change that.
Christopher is a religion editor and writer at the BBC, one of the few with a theology degree.
His talk was deeply informed by his experiences. One of his key points was that the BBC, being government run and not just in the business for money, often has a more balanced and less sensationalist point of reference when compared to other media. Chris was a bit chagrined when a few minutes later Palaniswami showed an instance last February when the BBC put a horrible photo online of an ash-covered Hindu sadhu with a human skull chewing on a human bone. The HT editors took BBC to task for it, and they changed their policy. Chris made some weak excuses for it.
Palaniswami ran his Keynote from a new iPhone app, something new that worked amazingly well. and enthralled the crowd as well. Ahmed commented the presentation "Was so good I think you could have gone on for hours without losing any of us." Jai to Hinduism Today!
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The letter "Ya" in the Panchakshara Mantra, Namasivaya, stands for the soul. Bodhinatha uses the Panchakshara Mantra to show how the soul is initially drawn by Siva's veiling grace, which leads the soul to maturity through experience in the world. Then comes Siva's revealing grace. When we've had enough of the world, Siva's grace pulls us toward God. The mantra also has the simple, two-syllable form. Si- Reflecting on God the Transcendent Absolute, Va-God as the All Pervading Consciousness